Music and dance have been fundamental parts of human history for millennia. Music activates all areas of our brain, and the dancer’s brain is even more complex. Movement activates the entire neurological network and stimulates the functioning of all brain structures.
Dance is a form of performing art in which the body moves rhythmically to express feelings and ideas. In addition to the artistic beauty that everyone enjoys, dancing is credited with a number of health benefits , including enhancing brain power and function.
Dance and the brain – how does dance affect the brain?
Studying dance and music , the experts came to some interesting insights. One scientific study compares the brain functions of professional dancers and musicians with people without the experience of dancing or music while watching recordings of dance performances. The brain activity of the dancers was different from the brain activity of the musicians, but also of the control group of participants.
These results support earlier findings that indicate that the auditory and motor cortex of the dancer develop in a unique way. In this paper, the results showed that the brains of dancers responded more quickly to changes in music than musicians and other participants. The change in the brain was apparent as a reflex , that is, before the dancer was even aware of the change. Dancers have also been shown to exhibit stronger synchronization at low theta frequency, and theta synchronization is associated with emotional and memory processes that are central to all interpersonal interactions and understanding.
However, dance neuroscience is still an under-explored area. What is still being explored is the way in which dance combines creative and precise movements including whole-body action. Dance is also associated with the phenomenon of flow , that is, the psychological construct of enthusiasm , and it is about the person immersing himself completely in an activity and devoting himself to what he is doing at that moment. It has also been found that such experience increases a person’s satisfaction and productivity as well as the quality of the activity itself.
Dancer brain – characteristics
Studies conducted on dancers reveal that their brains specialize in processing dance movements. This is why the brain structures of musicians and dancers differ from those of the general population, especially in the areas responsible for processing movement and sound. Dancers who practice precise and graceful movements and movement of their body must exercise and be aware of each movement without any verbal communication . These skills are especially important today when we spend so much time in virtual reality. Technology time has taken us beyond our own physical experiences and understanding of other people’s emotional messages.
However, it is a little different for dancers. Contact through touch and collaboration forces dancers to listen carefully to their partner’s movement messages, and touch is known to reduce pain, fear and anxiety. Functional brain imaging has shown that these effects of touch are visible in the brain as well. In one study, touching a significant other person reduced the intensity of activation of brain pain during electrical stimuli compared to pain experienced by an individual alone.
Pain, stress and anxiety come in combination with depressive symptoms. Dance, music and similar expressive forms of therapy can reduce and alleviate these symptoms. Physical activity is generally recommended as a form of treatment for depression . Exercise releases hormones that create a sense of well-being, which in turn enhances positive emotional processes in the brain. It also reduces the activity of the amygdala, which is the structure responsible for experiencing fear and stress. Dance therapy can help with many disorders, from anxiety to Parkinson’s disease.
Dance is a powerful subjective experience , and the neuroscience of dance can help us make the benefits of dance to make people feel better, healthier and more connected to others.
Benefits of dance in a person’s life
Although it may seem that all the dance benefits have already been discovered, the neuroscience of dance is still evolving and there is much room for progress. These are just a few of the main conclusions about the benefits of dance in a person’s life:
1. Dance relieves symptoms of depression
Dance has many benefits for the physical health of the individual, and research has shown promising results that confirm the benefits of dance for people’s mental health . Depression is a mental illness that is associated with symptoms such as emotional distress and loss of interest or satisfaction for otherwise enjoyable activities.
Depression affects more than 350 million people worldwide. Today, the most common and effective treatment for depression is medication combinations with counseling and psychotherapy. In one study, researchers found that expression through dance and movement therapy helps relieve the symptoms of depression.
2. Dance promotes the development of motor, emotional and intellectual functions of the brain
Dance and movement therapy is a type of psychotherapy that uses physical movements to maintain and enhance the body’s intellectual, motor and emotional abilities. Body movements in the form of improvisation by dance movements reveal the depth of a person’s psychic functioning , and movement can be a tool for the primary mode of intervention in various diseases.
This type of psychotherapy has also been found to have a positive effect on the cognitive development of children , and dance can also stimulate the development of intelligence. You can find out more about dance and movement therapy here .